“There are no sacred cows,” said incoming United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby during an earnings call Friday, according to Yahoo Finance. … Kirby added: “While we don’t have any plans to close hubs, when you say everything is on the table, we mean everything. If demand remains significantly diminished on October 1, we simply won’t be able to endure this crisis as a company without implementing some of the more difficult and painful actions.”
“Survival does not look great for us. In fact it does not look great for the entire arts sector,” Adam Phillipson, CEO of the Count Basie Center for the Arts, told CNBC yesterday. Calling for more federal help for arts organizations, Phillipson said, “We tried to build our runway as long as we can, but unless there’s going to be some sort of a reinvestment in the entire arts sector, you’re going to see theaters and not-for-profit organizations closing left and right.”
“Days like this are brutal,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in announcing 3,700 job cuts yesterday, according to Forbes. “I am truly sorry that we are doing this, just as I know we have to do this.” Khosrowshahi is waiving his base salary for the rest of 2020; he said he would give a further update in two weeks and implied that these layoffs might not be the last.
Analysis: Airbnb founder & CEO Brian Chesky was widely lauded for his layoff memo to employees on Tuesday. Here’s why. (1) Near the top of his letter to employees, in the crystal-clear language that characterized the letter, Chesky quickly delivered the news that 25% of Airbnb’s workforce, 1,900 people, would be let go. (2) In more detail than we’ve come to expect from such announcements, he detailed the decision-making processes and principles by which the layoff was conducted. (3) He explained the company’s smaller, sharper strategy and the rationale behind its revision. (4) He covered severance, healthcare, job-search support and immediate next steps. (5) And he concluded with words that sounded more humanly heartfelt than corporately calculated. “I have a deep feeling of love for all of you. … To those of you staying, one of the most important ways we can honor those who are leaving is for them to know that their contributions mattered, and that they will always be part of Airbnb’s story. I am confident their work will live on, just like this mission will live on. To those leaving Airbnb, I am truly sorry. Please know this is not your fault. The world will never stop seeking the qualities and talents that you brought to Airbnb … that helped make Airbnb. I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing them with us.”
Drug company CEOs are warning that finding a COVID-19 vaccine is one thing, but manufacturing enough is another. “We will all be supply constrained for quite some time, meaning we won’t be able to make as many product as will be required to vaccinate everyone on the planet,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC Friday. If the firm’s vaccine works, Bancel expects it to be able to manufacture 1 billion doses a year; there are 7.6 billion people on the planet.
How are corporate speechwriters and exec comms pros faring during coronavirus? By and large, they’re super busy, super anxious and ultimately confident about the future of leadership communication, whose organizational status 87% of exec comms pros think will be unchanged or actually increased by the coronavirus crisis. Read the full results of the Professional Speechwriters Association’s “Speechwriters Speak” survey: “Speechwriting, and Coronavirus: What Do You Think, How Do You Feel, What Do You Need?”
By year’s end, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai expects most employees to be back in the office some of the time—but still at home most of the time, according to CNBC. By bringing in 10% to 15% of workers into the office at any time, the firm will be able to get “60% of our employees in once a week, or something like that,” Pichai said. Noting that productivity is down in some parts of the company, Pichai also expressed uncertainty about how some kinds of work will play out remotely—brainstorming next year’s products, for instance. So he’s studying the issue closely. “But coming out of it all, do we all learn and have more flexibility in how we think about this? I think so, yeah. That’s how I would bet.”
Notre Dame this week became the first major university to announce its intention to bring students back to campus next fall, according to The New York Times. President John Jenkins likened the operation to “assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed”—which is why the university is starting two weeks early, to get the semester finished by Thanksgiving, avoiding the risks inherent in sending students home for break. Of the return-to-campus plan, Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne said, “If there were another outbreak, all of this is subject to change. At this point, we’re confident, but we remain flexible.”
Cancer Treatment Centers of America CEO Pat Basu is warning of a “shadow curve”—a spike in non-coronavirus illnesses not diagnosed or treated during the lockdown, according to Fox News. People are putting off screenings and other checkups, through which doctors routinely find cancers and other illnesses. “That, to me, is a major concern,” Basu said, picturing a study three years from now where researchers count as part of the coronavirus toll deaths that resulted from undiagnosed conditions. “We need to prevent that study in 2023 from being written. We need to stop that tidal wave from causing absolute destruction.”
(Thursday) May 28
“Why George Floyd mattered—to us all,” is the subject line of an all-employee email sent yesterday by U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere. The bank is headquartered in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed by police on Monday. “As many of you know, I tend to be a private person,” Cecere begins. “I try to lead by doing what’s best for the bank, and I typically don’t share my personal thoughts or opinions unless necessary. It’s unusual for a CEO, but it’s where I’m most comfortable. I’m not comfortable today. I’m disturbed by the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on Monday night—suffocating as a police officer kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes as people begged for someone to help him. I’m trying to find the right words to tell all our entire team, especially people of color, that their lives matter.” You may read the whole letter at ProRhetoric.com, where I put it in the context of a larger trend, accelerated by coronavirus, of CEOs weighing in on social issues.
Tomorrow, join us in June 2020. Be ready to hit the ground running.